Introduction by Cynthia Harris, Director of the New Jersey Room
Good evening. Welcome to the New Jersey Room. We are very honoured and proud to have with us this evening an author who has come across what they refer to as that big pond called the Atlantic Ocean. This is Ade Makinde; he is from England and he is here until the end of the week. He wrote a fascinating book about Jersey City’s own Frankie DePaula whose death was very questionable. I have to read the book; we haven’t gotten it in yet. It’s on order, but we’re waiting to get it. So at any rate, I don’t want to hold you up because I know you want to hear the presentation as well as ask questions. I will turn the programme over to our guest, Ade.
Thank you very much. Thank you, Cynthia. It’s a pleasure to be here with you. I’ve been looking forward to coming here. I was here three years ago to do the research for the book; parts of it, because you can do quite a lot of research at far distances in this technological age.
I wanted to meet the people of Jersey City, so thank you for coming and I hope that we have a pleasant surprise. Just to give you a run down of what we intend to do: I will give you a talk which may be twenty minutes; twenty five minutes. We’ll follow that up with a question and answer session, so you can ask me questions about the research about myself and about the book.
In regard to the book, publishers have these problems taking orders, so they are being inundated, in a way thankfully, but unfortunately some of you are here without books. One or two people have given it to members of the family and were expecting to buy a new one here. I think that I have a solution for that.
Anybody who wants a copy of the book, we’ll take names and addresses or names and phone numbers, then tell you who in Jersey City –if you’re not on the Internet, if you want to pay by cash or cheque or whatever- were you can purchase a book and I will receive the message in England; sign a copy for you and post it to your address. So we’re going to sort that out. It might be a few weeks to wait, but not that much.
So anyway, thank you again for coming. I think that I can anticipate some of the questions some of you would want to ask me. And I will just go through things and tell you what the findings are. What got me interested in this book in the first place, what my findings were and how I foresee this project leading to.
First thing to say is that, yes, I am a boxing fan and if you’ve read any of the releases on the Internet, you’ll find out that I wrote a book five years ago on Dick Tiger, Richard Ihetu, who was a great champion from Nigeria, which is where I am from. Dick Tiger was a legendary fighter who fought a fantastic bout with Frankie DePaula in 1968, and that fight became The Ring magazine’s ‘Fight of the Year.’
I had known about Frankie DePaula because I had read a book entitled Boxing Babylon. Some of you will know what Hollywood Babylon is. Hollywood Babylon was an expose of Hollywood; looking at the gross underbelly that wasn’t shown to the public. All you saw were the glamorous stars; the Bogarts, the Gables, but what did these people get up to in the interim period? There was a lot of nasty stuff going on there.
And in the same way boxing. I think people in popular culture know that something about boxing that certainly wasn’t pristine about it. Everybody knows about Mob involvement. They’ve read or they’ve heard about Budd Schulberg’s The Harder they Fall. They know something about the congressional hearings in the 1950s.
So boxing had that reputation. Nevertheless, there were some discoveries made by the journalist who wrote this book Boxing Babylon and one concerned Frankie DePaula. That was really the first time that I had heard about Frankie DePaula when I read about this in the late 1980s.
I saw the pictures of him and I thought, “Wow, what a violent ending.” I like to keep my stuff , so I kept that magazine all these years and I didn’t know how useful it would be (later on) because they put the excerpts of the book in that magazine.
Fast forward again, back to my Dick Tiger project when the book was released, I created a website on the Internet, and in that website I put special pride of place Frankie DePaula versus Dick Tiger. Fantastic bout. And Frankie DePaula’s late son, Michael DePaula got in touch with me and said, “Would you write a book about my dad?” I thought that this guy was being a bit too forward. What am I going to write about? He died when he was 31 years of age. What could I possibly say? I knew just the bare details of him. But what I decided to do was to write an article.
I spoke to Mike and then picked up that article that I had read years ago; the serialization of the book Boxing Babylon. I realized this is quite interesting. I wrote an article which was published in a boxing website on the Internet; it was called, Frankie DePaula: In Memoriam. I got so many good responses to that, you wouldn’t believe it. People who were friends of Frankie DePaula, people who were distant relations, boxing people. It really was a very satisfying experience.
Fast forward again from 2001 to 2006, I got in touch with Jed DiMatteo. When I say ‘Jed DiMatteo’, I expect everybody to know Jed DiMatteo. But maybe not. He’s one of those guys who gets himself around, and he’s a good networker. He encouraged me to delve a little more into this and that’s what I did. I wrote another article, The Mysteries of Frankie DePaula because I could see that this was not just any story about a boxer who goes into the gym, jumps a bit of rope, punches the bag and then he’s a contender all of a sudden. I knew there was something here. There was something about Jersey City; the place that he grew up in. There was something about the era in which he was a fighter.
I noted the social and political conditions of Jersey City; the Hague years, Frank Hague, the dominant force in Jersey politics for over 30 years; the influence of the Mafia in the society, and I just felt that this was a guy with a lot of talent; a lot of charisma and somehow something went wrong.
So in a way, I didn’t necessarily put it this way in the book, I felt that this was an example of The American Dream-type story, but it’s not the sugar and icing type of American Dream of a guy who comes from poverty and makes it. This is an example of a guy who perhaps due to his fault, perhaps due to the fault of his environment actually ‘missed the boat’ and did not achieve what he sought to achieve.
So like in my book on Dick Tiger, where I talk about the social history of Dick Tiger’s people (the Igbo) who fought a civil war in Nigeria; it was something that was broadcast around the world in the 1960s. We looked at the boxing history of the time. I thought that this story also presented that kind of multi-layered look at things.
The first thing to look at was that this guy was an American-Italian and American-Italians came to America, most of them from southern Italy, under particular circumstances. This guy, Frankie DePaula was born on Independence Day, and that means a lot to you in this country. Well, that’s an understatement, but the fact that he was born symbolically on that day, in a sense was something which maybe those of you who are esoteric-leaning or superstitious or whatever might think that it would have an effect on any child.
Here we have a situation where this guy probably didn’t fulfill what his ancestors, who had struggled all the way in those boats to America, would have wanted their descendants to fulfill. And there’s a reason for that; environmental, personal. We go through this in the book.
So it’s something to do with social history. Frank Hague had a reign in this part of the world which is quite extraordinary. I did a bit of research on him, but one of the new things I learned about him recently was that so total was his control on Jersey City, the totalitarian regime in the Soviet Union sent people to Jersey City to find out ‘How the hell does he do that? How does he keep a lid on things?”
He had a positive legacy and he had a negative legacy and that feeds into the Frankie DePaula story, as does the legacy of Cosa Nostra; the Mafia. They had an all pervading influence on American society. And it was shown more visibly in the boxing industry than in other places.
The Mafia controlled boxing to an extent that you had to deal with them if you were going to be a fighter or if you were going to be a promoter or act in any capacity in the boxing industry. The Frank DePaula story feeds into that aspect of American history.
So these things got me interested. Another thing that got me interested was the murder mystery aspect of it. I’m not necessarily a fan of Agatha Christie or Alfred Hitchcock or one of these mystery things, but I do like to inquire, without necessarily being too taken in by conspiracy theories, but I thought that there was an analogy here with the John F. Kennedy assassination in the sense that Frankie DePaula was shot for any of probably four or five reasons and all of those four or five reasons were probably correct.
Let me relate it to the Kennedy thing –I don’t want to give you too much of a history lesson. You know, in your own country, I’m coming to tell you about your history; but if you know about the Kennedy assassination, it could have been people within the government that did it; (people) who felt that he was a dangerous, left-leaning president (and) an Irish Catholic. They didn’t want him.
It could have been the Cubans; the communists in Cuba because the American government wanted to kill (Castro), and they did not succeed. It could have been the anti-Castro forces, because they felt betrayed after the Bay of Pigs. It could have been so many reasons and how do you tie them all up?
Well, I thought that the Frankie DePaula story posed that sort of mystery. Not just one reason or two reasons. There were many reasons as to why he was shot.
And the other thing that really interested me, to go back to my starting point, is that I am a fan of boxing, and it is about boxing history. He did fight at Madison Square Garden which in the 1960s maybe had lost a bit of the luster, if you know about boxing in the 1930s, 1940s when Joe Louis was the king and you had boxers like Willie Pep.
In the 1950s, you had some very, very good boxers; and like Frankie DePaula, a lot of them were of Italian-American heritage. And this is another key thing about the Frankie DePaula story. The Italian-Americans after the Second World War were set to go sky high; to be accepted into the mainstream. What that means is that when people improve their conditions economically, you don’t need to become boxers anymore.
So at the time Frankie DePaula in the early 60s had turned professional, boxers like Willie Pep were on the way out. They were getting old. Joey Giardello had one more grasp at the title, but he was fading. The era of the Irish, Italian and Jewish fighters long gone.
But along comes Frankie DePaula; good looking Italian kid. He can punch hard and he has a natural charisma that draws crowds to him. It didn’t just start like that; he was drawing crowds before he turned professional when he was an amateur. People were shocked when they came out of the military or prison. They found out that that DePaula kid we knew; “he’s doing really well. He’s bringing in the crowds.”
That was also part of what would in the end kill him; because the Mafia got wind of this, and they were in it for the money. The important thing to mention, and it is mentioned in the book –I’ll try not to give away too much of the book; this is just setting the scene, is that boxing had this relationship with television. At its peak in the 1950s, people could watch boxing matches for free on TV; you know ‘Friday Night at the Fights.’ But gradually interest waned. When you are overexposed to something, the interest goes. Maybe it had something to do with the prosperity in American society. Fewer people were always going to go in to boxing after the Second World War, so it was always going to diminish.
With the boxing industry, you had a situation where people were no longer going to neighbourhood fights and you had a situation where eventually the viewers, the superficial viewers were no longer interested. They had seen it all. It was there day in, day out; week in, week out.
What happened was that Madison Square Garden lost a contract with Gillette. They weren’t going to invest anymore in boxing. It was waning. The death blow, literally, may have been the fight between Emile Griffith who is well known in Hudson County and Benny ‘Kid’ Paret in which ‘Kid’ Paret was fatally wounded. After that, boxing went down hill and television cut the strings off.
Now the thing about that is where does Frankie DePaula fit into that? Madison Square Garden, then still the ‘Mecca of Boxing’, needed the punters to come in. And there were not many guys who could draw in a ready made crowd. It just wasn’t happening in those days. It’s like where people say, “Is it necessary to have newspapers anymore with the Internet? Should you be giving news on the Internet for free?”
People are thinking where next to go. So in the boxing industry, they said, “Look, we’ve got to get the live gate.” And somebody like Frankie DePaula was made to measure for that, and again. This is part of the issue we raise in the book.
Was his manager, Patty Amato gotten rid of so as to pave the way for Gary Garafola? He was a Mob man controlled by James Napoli and members of the Hudson County Genovese family –so called family.
They had their tentacles all over the place. They controlled Chuck Wepner and they also controlled Jimmy Dupree. This was all a pre-planned thing, because three of these fighters: DePaula, Dupree and Wepner all became attached to Gary Garafola within the space of twelve months.
So you have a situation where the Mafia, they are business people; they are not very sentimental people. This is a mistake some people make in real life, as well as what they see on television. It was strictly business, and one of the flaws in Frankie DePaula was not to deal with these people in the way (he) did, because Chuck Wepner was indirectly, and Jimmy Dupree indirectly and thousands of other boxers were indirectly controlled by the Mafia, but not all of them ended up getting shot in an alleyway in a city.
So this is part of the crux of the story. Who is Frankie DePaula? Why did he turn out to be that way? Why did the guy who had so many athletic gifts throw it away?
Many of you here probably knew him, so I don’t want to go into details; there are so many anecdotes, and I’m sure that some of you have your own Frankie DePaula stories. A lot of the time they are the same. It’s so predictable, the Frankie DePaula anecdote because it always ends up with about two, three or four guys knocked out cold.
(laughter from the audience)
So in a way, you’ve heard it all. Was it in a bar? Was it on a street? And when he knocked them out, it wasn’t like one guy’s busy carrying himself up (making groaning sounds). They were knocked out totally unconscious. They didn’t move at all. That’s the power of the guy.
He was a phenomenal street fighter; although those of us who know about boxing, and I’m not saying that in an arrogant way, but if you know about boxing, a lot of it has to do with technique as well. So just because you’re a big strong person doesn’t mean you’ll last the distance.
Frankie was a guy who I understand from the ‘horses mouth’ –I spoke to people who I feel thankfully were in a position to speak to me because I don’t think that they would have spoken to me fifteen, twenty years ago when a lot of characters were still alive or still had a lot of power in this part of the world.
I spoke to people like Al Certo, and he felt that the early Frankie DePaula was easily more talented than Rocky Graziano. He was easily a bigger puncher, which in a way is not saying anything because he was in a higher weight class, but pound-for-pound, he was in a phenomenal puncher.
So that’s the background of the Frankie DePaula story. It’s something that melds with the social history of his ethnic group and I do go into Jersey City and I’m very thankful for the words of praise from those people who felt that I captured the essence of Jersey City, the social mores of the kids growing up.
To understand the Frankie DePaula story, you have to understand the people. So I went there and I spoke to people. In the book, I didn’t just listen to people and put it into my words. I wanted the voice of the people to come out.
A lot of people from Jersey City achieve great things. They might become judges. They might become military lawyers in the American Air Force, but they still retain that down-to-earth manner of talking to you. So I appreciated that. They told it like it was.
The other thing that I write about in the Frankie DePaula story and I mention is this issue of the Mafia. One has to be cautious. It’s no big joke. People would have seen people disappear literally. People would have seen people maimed and killed for talking out of turn.
One of the things that I do mention in the book is a guy who is now a very good friend of mine, Jerry McGrellis. He was a light heavyweight champion; a Golden Gloves amateur champion. When he was coming up in the 70s, he would go up to Buffano’s Gym and places like that, and the topic of conversation would inevitably at some point come to Frankie DePaula; this guy who was from Hudson County.
People would say, “What a phenomenal puncher. This guy could throw twenty punches in less than two seconds.” Obviously, when you start saying things like that, people are going to be interested say things like, “Yeah, really? Can I meet him? What is he down at the burger bar? What is he doing now?”
“Oh forget about it kid. Don’t worry. He was just somebody.”
So it was something that was buried, and it’s obvious, particularly in those days, that you didn’t just say things about things which were obviously a Mob hit; because they way the hit was carried out, it was made to look like, Oh, he was a guy who was attractive to women. He must have done something and somebody’s husband killed him. The Mob have a way of trying to (camouflage their handiwork) –there are a lot of secrets there. There are a lot of books on Mobsters. They’ve never been clarified and that was the intention in this case.
It was made to look in a certain way that it didn’t involve the Mob. But the very least we could tell anybody was that everybody knew at the end of the day. And that’s why in the training gymnasium, guys like Jerry McGrellis were cut off short there. They started talking about DePaula and the conversation finished.
So that’s basically the background. What are the findings?
You read the book and make your mind up. People have different writing styles. There are writers who are just interested in writing from their perspective and imposing their will. I have my views but DePaula was a very polarizing person. I’m grateful to members of his family giving me access; I didn’t speak to all of them, but those of them who did, thank you very much. It must be a painful thing to do something that there are certain things that are going to come out that you don’t want other people to know about.
How many of us want other people to know about what’s happening in our family? So I appreciate that. But in order to elevate him –because I think that this was the crux of the thing. I felt this was a guy who the American Dream went wrong for. And in order to bring out that story, you have to bring out everything. You can’t do a whitewash. At the same time you can’t do a hatchet job. It was a situation where you have to give the good, the bad, and the plain ugly.
A lot of that features in the life of Frankie DePaula. There are no two ways about it. So I had his friends talk about him as candidly as possible. I was told when I was interviewing Frankie’s brother Mr. Bobby DePaula in Miss America Diner, he mentioned some stuff. I spoke to his (Frankie’s) son, Joseph DePaula. There were the positive parts, but there were the negative parts that you have to deal with. There are no two ways about it. And that gives it a rounded impression.
And I just feel also that the fact that a book has been written about him by an outsider. It shows you something about the Frankie DePaula story that nobody from Jersey City wrote about a book about him. Why is that? Well in the years and decades after his death; no one was going to write something where you mention words like the name “Bobby Manna”. Or you mention a name like “Martin Casella”. You just didn’t mention those names in a throwaway fashion.
So a lot of time has gone. I considered it over the years and I (finally) felt that we can go for it. There’s a lot of time that has gone by. There could be dangers there. People might want to sue you. I don’t know. Would anyone want to put a hit on me?
You’ve had books on Sonny Liston. You’ve had books on real mysteries like the murder of Roberto Calvi in London by supposedly the P2 Lodge of Lucio Gelli. People have grappled with these sorts of mysteries and dangerous mysteries to begin with, so I felt you have to have the moral courage to go for what you are interested in, and that’s what I did.
So that’s my rationale of it. A book on Frankie DePaula gives him a kind of a substance that was denied him. Even for all the bad things and the ugly things that might come up in the book. There’s a lot of good. He was a very good man that many people saw that. And I don’t have any reason to believe that they are telling lies to me. He was a very nice polite person; polite to women, respectful, he helped his friends.
But there was another side to him. He could be a ruffian. He did spend time first in parental homes, then on to reform school, and then he graduated to penitentiaries. You know, you can’t do a whitewash in that situation.
I think one person who got it succinctly was his friend Jerry Acquaviva. Jerry told me, and this is in the preface of the book, that if you stood back when Frankie DePaula was holding court –he was always a popular guy around whom crowds would gather- you could see people with pleasure in their eyes; they were happy; they were intrigued by him; they were mesmerized by him.
But then again you could see people with hatred in their eyes. They couldn’t say anything. Who would want to be knocked out? Who would want to face the wrath of Frankie DePaula? But there was hatred there. People feared him as well.
So I am so grateful to Jerry Acquaviva. I mean he’s had to say a few things about himself which would have his wife or his children or his grandchildren questioning him, but I admire that. He’s honest about what he did in his life and he’s given me a very, very good portrait of Frankie DePaula which perhaps somebody else would not be in a position to do.
So a book gives Frankie DePaula’s life substance. It was like swatting a fly. He was murdered, and I know there is a twist right at the end. There’s actually an aspect of euthanasia there. But effectively the law is that where you intend to kill somebody, which those men in the alley intended to do, you’re as guilty as if the person died immediately. Attempted murder is the same thing as murder.
There’s no question. The people who ordered Frankie to be executed; the people who pulled the triggers were murderers and killers. No two ways about that; but there is a twist right at the end of the sad tale of how he disintegrated in the hospital.
Sorry that I keep rambling on about wrapping this up, but the point I say is that it was as if a fly had been swatted. When you swat a fly, you don’t give fly burial rites. You don’t remember a fly. A fly is an insignificant thing.
And Frankie DePaula may have lost his way in life. He may have turned out in some peoples’ estimation to have been a ne’er-do-well, but he did achieve something. How many of us can draw a crowd? Not many of us can draw a crowd by just standing somewhere or in the job we do.
And although he didn’t reach the pinnacle of his career, the fact that he had this loyal following was something to be envied by many boxers. It was something obviously that the promoters of Madison Square Garden and the Mob in the background wanted.
He achieved something.
So my hope is that a book on Frankie DePaula first of all, says that “This is not a fly that should be swatted. This is a substantive person who deserves some sort of a place in Jersey City history.
Whether you look at him as a hero or an anti-hero or a cult (-figure), it’s a shock that nobody had written a book up until the time that I did that. I think that for all the bad things that maybe people in his family may be sensitive to or for all the stuff that other people may have wanted or not wanted to have been in the book; I think that it (the book) does say that he was somebody.
He was somebody that kids were interested at finding out about, but everybody said, “shoo-shoo-shoo. Don’t talk about that”.
I think this is the completion of a circle; that he is being remembered.
I’d like to thank those of you who helped me with the book. Just about this issue of books for sale, I’ll mention something later on after we do the question and answer session.
So thank you very much for listening, it’s over to you now. Cynthia will direct. You can ask me any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Well, it looks like you’ve done quite well in drawing a crowd with Frankie’s story. Frankie’s still drawing a crowd after all these years. So anyway, we have a good twenty minutes left. Does anyone have any questions, any comments any personal thoughts you’d like to share?
Member of audience (1): Gary Garafola. Is he still living?
Adeyinka Makinde: Apparently he is. He’s in a nursing home. I don’t know if he’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Member of audience (1): Wife?
Adeyinka Makinde: His wife may be living. I know that his son died recently.
Member of audience (2): He’s living in Secaucus in an old people’s home.
Adeyinka Makinde: Do you know what his condition is?
Member of audience (2): I don’t know what the problem is but he’s like a vegetable.
Adeyinka Makinde: Right. That’s what I heard too.
Member of audience (3): You said his son died recently?
Adeyinka Makinde : Yes. He died of a drug overdose in a hotel or motel soon after he was released from jail.
Member of audience (4): What about the midget?
Adeyinka Makinde: Mario. Mario Lococo. What a fascinating character. That was what Frankie DePaula was about. You hear about these great fighters like Sugar Ray Robinson; Muhammad Ali and they have this entourage. Well, Frankie always had these cast of characters around him. I don’t know what happened to Mario. I have absolutely no idea. I searched far and wide. I would have loved to have spoken to him, but you’ll see some anecdotes in the book about ‘Mario the Midget’.
Member of audience (4): How about Dick Tiger. Is he still around and have you spoken to him?
Adeyinka Makinde: No, Dick Tiger died many moons ago. He died in 1971 when he was only 42 years of age when he passed away from cancer of the liver. That’s another guy whose legacy I wanted to be brought to the fore, because in Nigeria, he took sides in a civil war. His side lost, and he was a big hero in Nigeria before that time in the 1960s, but later on, his legacy went way down because he picked the losing side.
Member of audience (5): Is Frankie DePaula’s widow still alive?
Adeyinka Makinde: I believe she is.
Member of audience (5): And where did he live in Jersey City?
Adeyinka Makinde: He lived a lot on Duncan Avenue…
Member of audience (5): He was killed on Harrison Avenue
Adeyinka Makinde: Yes. I think they also had a home on Jersey Avenue nearby here, but he was a Duncan Avenue guy
Member of audience (5): He was like in a coma or very ill for like four months before he died. He was waked around the corner from me at Marshello’s near Westside Avenue. All the mobsters were there. I was a kid then, but I remember the FBI was there and the cops taking pictures of the mobsters.
Adeyinka Makinde: That’s interesting you mentioning the FBI taking pictures because one of the reasons that I could put flavor and background in the book is that I made several Freedom of Information Act requests. Some of them were denied me. Some of it relates to certain conversations that were taking place between Garafola and ‘Jimmy Nap’; James Napoli in which the F.B.I. and N.Y.P.D. felt that the fight with Bob Foster was fixed. Another person who was at that wake was Frankie Valli. He came when everything had shut down and he came to pay his respects to his friend. This is another angle to the Frankie DePaula story. Literally, the people he came across, legends in America. The legendary Frankie Valli was a great friend of his and also Joe Namath, the footballer. He was pretty tight with Frankie DePaula.
Member of audience (6): Have you seen the Foster-DePaula fight?
Adeyinka Makinde: Yes, I have.
Member of audience (6): Did you think it was fixed?
Adeyinka Makinde: I think there are good grounds to think that it might have been, because although Bob Foster was a very dominant champion and was favoured to beat Frankie DePaula, I think that if you listen to the tapes; the transcripts the F.B.I. released, you can see that something funny was being plotted. And if you listen to the interviews afterwards; if you look at the fight, Bob Foster never hit Frankie DePaula with a clean shot. And Frankie claimed that he slipped.
Member of audience (7): Frankie slipped on the second knockdown. The third knockdown was a legitimate knockdown, so once they called the second knockdown a knockdown, they had to stop the fight because that was the rule. I was down in the locker room on the night of the fight. I was there with Frankie. And they came down and told me –It was thirty seconds into the fight when Foster was down (inaudible). A couple of minutes later, they came in and told me that the fight was over. I thought that Frankie was the light heavyweight champion of the world, because that’s how hard he hit.
Adeyinka Makinde: Foster also hit hard. I respect that. Have you read the book?
Member of audience (7): Yes
Adeyinka Makinde: I give both sides. I give a lot of weight to what people like Al Certo, Tommy Gallagher and Ron Lipton were saying. They felt that it was a genuine victory. Further to what you’re saying, Frankie DePaula because of his stays in prison meant that he did not have a big amateur career. He won the Golden Gloves, but he wasn’t somebody who (participated) in the A.A.U. or the Golden Gloves continually as someone like Bob Foster did. Then he had a lengthy career before he had a shot…
Member of audience (7): Did you see the Bob Foster knockdown?
Adeyinka Makinde: Yes.
Member of audience (7): Did that look like a guy who was trying to throw the fight?
Adeyinka Makinde: Not necessarily no. He dug into him.
Member of audience (7): That’s right. He went down. There was no way that he was looking to throw away that fight.
Adeyinka Makinde: Having said that. To fix a fight or to throw a fight is a very difficult thing, because you’ve got to make it look a certain way. And yes, he dug to the body; Foster went down. I think it was a ‘shove-punch’, but whatever it was, Foster went down. Foster didn’t like it. He felt that he just slipped. The place was slippery. That’s a good point but later on in the fight, you could talk to somebody like Frankie DePaula’s brother who felt that Frankie didn’t fight the right fight. Yes, he went close to Foster and started digging at him but how come Frankie didn’t pin him down; stick close to his chest?
Member of audience (7): Because they made so much of a deal about Frankie being this great puncher. Frankie could box. He was a good boxer. I boxed with him a number of times; he was very sharp. They made such a big deal of him being such a hard puncher and that’s what everyone expected him to do. But he could box. No story about it. Frankie could box, not just punching in him. If he’d done that he have gone on to win the fight.
Adeyinka Makinde: You know I’m just playing ‘Devil’s Advocate’ here. I respect your opinions, but further to that point, if you look at the beginning –and I put this all in the book- that was what Frankie was going to do all the time. That’s what Al Braverman said. Frankie could box, but the truth is that he only faced what could be called ‘club fighters’. Rocky Rivero was a bit of a challenge, but he was passed it and was not a natural light heavyweight. Dick Tiger was ageing; he was fighting at a weight that really wasn’t his weight. Frankie was much bigger than him (but) Frankie lost it. Just by the skin of his teeth; that was something Frankie could have won. But the truth is that Frankie hadn’t boxed at a certain level. And the way he was going to defeat Foster was to play to the strengths of him being an invincible street fighter. That’s what they were saying all the time, and Frankie built that up. Nobody has any reason to disbelieve that Frankie DePaula could knockout anybody. Not just on the streets, but in the ring. But a lot of people did notice that as the fight came closer, Frankie was not the ebullient, enthusiastic guy. He was now a bit quieter. Now, I ask the question in the book, ‘Why was that?’ You don’t have to believe that, but I’m just laying it out that for instance, could it be that this is the moment of truth that he realizes he’s meeting a dominant champion and that he’s in on to something where he might be out of his depth? Or, if not, he’s being confident all this time (then) all of a sudden he goes quiet. Could it be that he’s trained as hard as he could at any time of his life only to be told by the Mafia behind the scenes that Frankie “You gotta throw this one. You gotta throw this one.” And that’s brought to him at the last minute. Who knows what was in his mind at the time? This is part of the mystery of Frankie DePaula.
Member of audience (8): Where do you get that idea that the Mafia told him to throw the fight?
Adeyinka Makinde: I got the ‘idea’; it’s more than an idea from the actual transcripts…
Member of audience (8): From who?
Adeyinka Makinde: of the F.B.I.-N.Y.P.D...
Member of audience (8): They heard that Frankie said that ‘I gotta throw this fight’?
Adeyinka Makinde: They had the tapes…
Member of audience (8): Who told Frankie to throw the fight?
Adeyinka Makinde: James Napoli. ‘Jimmy Nap’.
Member of audience (8): I read your book. Really, did they have that that Napoli told Frankie…?
Adeyinka Makinde: That was the argument. Napoli went up to Grossinger’s…
Member of audience (8): Sorry to butt in like that, but it sounds very, very…I don’t believe that at all
Adeyinka Makinde: Really?
Member of audience (8): Really.
Adeyinka Makinde: You know what, I respect that. You’re absolutely entitled to your own opinion but historically, fighters had been told to…
Member of audience (8): They had tapes?
Adeyinka Makinde: They had tapes.
Member of audience (8): Why were they taping them?
Adeyinka Makinde: Why were they taping them? Because they felt that these guys were bribing people. These guys were a nuisance to American society.
Member of audience (8): That sounds far-fetched. I think you wrote a wonderful book…
Adeyinka Makinde: Thanks…
Member of audience (8): But that’s really far-fetched about a tape of Frankie. I don’t think any judge in the world would…
Adeyinka Makinde: If you read things like the John Gotti story and how..
Member of audience (8): We’re not talking about John Gotti, we’re talking about Frankie DePaula…
Adeyinka Makinde: I know that…
Member of audience (8): These were regular guys; nowhere near John Gotti
Adeyinka Makinde: Remember they were taping ‘Jimmy Nap’, and anybody who got in contact with ‘Jimmy Nap’ would be taped.
Member of audience (9): He was in the middle of the tapes
Adeyinka Makinde: And don’t forget he met ‘Jimmy Nap’ at a club in Manhattan; a restaurant, and apparently Frankie was caught on tape saying, “I scored tonight. I scored tonight. I don’t have any change on me”. And what the F.B.I. and the N.Y.P.D. were saying was that first of all, he hadn’t collected his purse money. Secondly, his money from the Dick Tiger fight…
Member of audience (8): Interrupts (inaudible)
Adeyinka Makinde: No, that’s O.K.
Member of audience (8): This is why we’re here..
Adeyinka Makinde: This is why we’re here, Don’t worry about it
Member of audience (8): I don’t believe all that…
Adeyinka Makinde: That’s fair enough
Member of audience: (Inaudible) they taped Mr. Casella and all these other guys…
Member of the audience (9): Let’s not mention too many names
(Laughter and clapping)
Member of audience (10): Do you think that maybe he lost the fight because he wasn’t big on training sometimes?
Adeyinka Makinde: Yes, I think we go in to detail about how Frankie DePaula could have been so much better. He could have been a champion, but that was the one thing he didn’t do. He didn’t train as hard as he should have trained.
Member of audience (11): he didn’t belong in the ring with Foster anyway.
Adeyinka Makinde: You see that’s an opposite opinion.
Member of audience (11): They pushed him
Adeyinka Makinde: I think they pushed him too far. They could have waited a bit more. Of course, anything could have happened. Frankie could have knocked out Bob Foster, no question about that, if he got lucky, but he hadn’t had that amateur experience. His professional career had been interrupted by a prison spell.
Member of audience (12): It sounds like you had extensive conversations with Al Certo. I was wondering what your impression is of Al.
Adeyinka Makinde: Al’s a cool guy. I remember ringing him up when I was researching the Dick Tiger book and the first thing that you hear on the phone is “Certo”. And ten years later it was the same thing. I don’t want to say too much more about Al Certo. He’s a great guy. I could make certain jokes, but those jokes would be a private matter. You know, something involving ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and a link, you know you enter into a shop in Secaucus and it’s two worlds and they’re connecting and uhh, I’ll keep quiet on that.
Member of audience (12): Were you able to interview any of the people connected with DePaula and the Mob? Did anyone come forward?
Adeyinka Makinde: I got in touch with somebody who was involved in the notorious copper heist. He himself was not a Mob guy and didn’t realize (the Mob’s involvement) until after the heist was discovered. So that’s about as close as I got. A lot of the figures who would have known something about this are now deceased. John DiGilio, a very hard man and a feared man; he’s now gone to the afterworld. And in a way, thank goodness. I spoke to people who were in the presence of Frankie DePaula having an argument with Bobby Manna. Now if Bobby Manna is looking at you straight in the eye, you’re going to be –I could feel the fear in his voice after all those years. I had to ‘doctor’ that scene a bit. A lot of them have passed on but a lot of them remain quiet.
Member of audience (13): Ade, regarding the book situation, do you have a website now?
Adeyinka Makinde: That’s a good question. We’re in the process of developing one but there are Internet links on Frankie DePaula on Myspace, Facebook group and a Fan Page. People can get information. But an actual website, that’s still coming up.
Member of audience (13): Let me make an offer to you. We had a great conversation on Sunday. I build websites. If you wish, collect e-mails from everybody here who wants the book and by this time tomorrow, there’ll be a site at which they can order the book from you with your dedicated signature. If you’d like to do that. I will have the website up tonight as a gift to you.
Adeyinka Makinde: That would be fantastic.
Joseph DePaula: Ade, I’ve got a quick question. I’d like to know where you got the information that supposedly my uncle Joey put a pillow up to my father’s face to suffocate him.
Adeyinka Makinde: That’s confidential information. But it did come from a source that apparently knew and they say that’s what happened.
Joseph DePaula: One other question. If my father was here today, what do you think that he would think about the book?
Adeyinka Makinde: Wow, I don’t think that I’d be that close to him. You know, as someone who values my physical features…
Adeyinka Makinde: What would he think about it? I would like to think that he would be happy about it, because if you think about it in today’s world, a lot of people do things in their past and we’re assuming that he would have survived and had learned from his mistakes. If that was the case, I think that he would like a lot of people in this culture would have been happy to go back in his life and say “This is the way I was.” A number of things he did; there was mention in the book about smoking certain substances, taking ‘trips’. Actually, if you read a book on John F. Kennedy, scion of the famous Kennedy family, you’ll find that JFK took LSD trips in the White House. He smoked pot. He was a womanizer. So there are a lot of things that were written in the Frankie DePaula story that were no different from a lot of people who have achieved something in American society. Somehow justice was done: “She was killed”, “this guy went to jail,” “this guy was murdered”, the people who were involved in his killing. But at the end of the day, the Mafia as an entity at the time did not face justice for what they did to him, and that is a shame. I would like to think that the Frankie DePaula who looks (back on his life) and says, “I was a legend here. People knew about me. People would go all the way up to Madison Square Garden. (Now) nobody knows me. I’m half forgotten.” I think that Frankie DePaula would have appreciated the book.
Thank you very much.